After seven years of research, a group of scientists from the Regional Research Center Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, of the Schools of Chemistry and Veterinary of the Autonomous University of Yucatan ( UADY ), concluded that water of the cenotes in the central, east and west parts of the state of Yucatan is highly contaminated with pesticides organochlorines, and this situation is generating a high incidence of cervical cancer and breast cancer amongst the female population.
In the last decade, Yucatán has ranked among the top states nationwide with these types of cancer. In this regard, the UADY researcher Angel Polanco Rodríguez, said that he has been working since 2007 on two research projects of contaminants in biological and environmental samples:
1) “Study of organochlorine pesticides in blood and breast milk (biomarkers) of women with cancer in the municipalities of highest prevalence in Yucatan”
2) “Water Table Pollution in the area known as The Ring of Cenotes“.
Researchers from the University of Udine, Italy, and the University of Cádiz, Spain were also involved in both research projects.
The conclusion is that 11 municipalities within the state along the zone known as the “Ring of Cenotes” are affected by the presence of organochlorine pesticides, prohibited and restricted by international conventions such as Stockholm and Prague.
These substances belong to the group of pesticides DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, endosulfan, heptachlor, lindane, among others, and its metabolites, considered endocrine disruptors, modify the natural hormonal functions in humans, causing cancer, neurological disorders and other diseases; and obviously these substances are also highly harmful to the environment.
Polanco Rodriguez, who has been working since 2007 examining biological and environmental samples in cenotes, said that these substances are used by farmers and production of backyard gardens to eliminate crop pests and ectoparasites of pigs, cattle and domestic animals.
Regarding the study of organochlorine pesticides in blood and breast milk of infected women with cancer, the researcher said 72 subjects were studied. It was revealed that these people have high levels of pesticides in their blood and breast milk, affecting infants by breastfeeding them with milk containing these dangerous pollutants.
This incidence is recorded and distributed in 17 municipalities located in the main agricultural area in the southeast of the state, and in the livestock area, such as towns like Valladolid, Chemax, Cuncunul, Tekom and also Merida.
Rodriguez Polanco has met with the Commission on Gender Equality, Human Rights and Vulnerable Groups State Congress, to initiate regulations for water conservation, disease prevention, regulation and strict application of the use and management of these type of highly toxic pesticides.
“It is urgent to establish programs and research projects to give continuity to those coordinated by UADY’s “Hideyo Noguchi Research Center” for the benefit of our society, and to take the necessary measures to preserve the water table and to promote a self sustainable environment,” he said.
These two research scientists have been socialized with local, national and international universities, and have had support from CONACYT. Also, a new edition of a Risk Atlas Cancers in Yucatan, as well as scientific publications on this environmental problem is integrated.
Meanwhile, to develop awareness actions, Latino University academics promote healthy habits and care of water among the students and contribute their knowledge to research conducted by the Regional Research Center Dr. Hideyo Noguchi regarding water pollution in the cenotes of at least 28 municipalities.
On the subject, the Dean of the “Universidad Latina” Diana Carmona Santisbón, stated that students studying Nutrition, Law and Marketing participate in surveys to establish indicators of the quality of life of these populations.
He explained that the support of this institution will also manage national and international resources to support researchers and authorize projects developed by scientists.
“First, we seek to have a real picture of what´s happening, so we can make the right decisions, then we can teach people to prevent it “explained the academic. “We hope the result will be adequate, the goal is not to scare anyone, but to have a more general idea and start talking to people of how to conserve water and the problem it represents for future generations” she said.
Santisbón Carmona said that the academic programs of the “Universidad Latino” have a strong focus on health issues, as the careers offered are related to nutrition, nursing and psychology. “We care a lot about the impact regarding the health of the people, pollution and environmental issues, because all these are related careers that we teach in this institution,” she stated.
On the other hand a government committee on gender equality and vulnerable groups of the State Congress, announced that it´s working on a bill to address the problems caused by the pollution in the underwater water tables in Yucatan that is believed triggers diseases such as cancer in women.
The local deputy said, that based on reports on the subject, pollution in the cenotes is such because most of the cenotes are used as septic tanks, which is also noticeable in Mérida. “This is a delicate and serious issue with a great impact on our society ; I think that is our job and responsibility to contribute to the welfare and health of the people living in Yucatan ” the deputy said.
Leandra Moguel said it is likely that this bill will be ready during the current regular session, which began last week, proposed to be discussed with people of all the political parties PRD, PAN and Green Party, in order to create a proposal that protects these places because it is becoming an issue that impacts on public health of the inhabitants of Yucatan.
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